Editor’s Note: For more information on what Metaverse real estate is and how it works, see our past article “Real Estate in the Metaverse: Where Virtual Meets Reality”
Despite many movie predictions on the future being wrong about where technology would be by 2023, as a society, we are growing closer to spending our lives in a fully digital world like the virtual reality (VR) universe out of “Ready Player One.”
VR has grown substantially over the years, and the “Metaverse”- what’s described as the next iteration of the Internet as a single, universal, and immersive virtual world – has become a product of that. With land (even virtual), comes the housing market and real estate in the Metaverse is growing in prevalence. It’s predicted to become a strong factor of change not just for the virtual world, but for the real-life real estate industry as well.
In his commentary “Your Peek Into the Future: 10 Things Guaranteed to Change Real Estate,” Vice President of Industry Relations & Head of Brokerage for HouseCanary Cameron Paine shared his ideas regarding how real estate in the Metaverse will stand to turn the industry on its head.
“No one can know which Metaverse(s) will become the de facto virtual real estate ‘world(s)’ of the future, but the uncontested fact is that virtual real estate will be built, offered for sale and purchased,” said Paine. “Equally inevitable is that buyers of Metaverse real estate will seek professional help finding, valuing and purchasing. There are already a few bleeding-edge brokerages working this space, so consider this the call to action to create a new designation to educate experts in this area.”
Additionally, in the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2022 Technology Survey, 46% of respondents said that the Metaverse will definitely or probably have an impact on the industry.
Meta is still such a new technology, though, that it can be hard to understand and break out into its real estate field, and it can be even harder to predict what the future really has in store for it.
Here, industry professionals share how they got started in Meta real estate, their advice for others looking to test the waters, and where they feel the field is headed.
Getting into the Metaverse
While the Metaverse is still a fairly new technology, most people don’t necessarily know what it is, let alone have any understanding of buying/selling property within it. For the few real estate professionals working within the Metaverse, despite whether they had a background in technology or not, they all advise that there are plenty of ways to learn and get started.
Natalia Karayaneva, founder and CEO of Propy, a proptech company involved in crypto, NFTs and the Metaverse, got her start in the Metaverse through her background in both real estate and technology.
“Before starting Propy, I worked in the real estate industry for many years and saw firsthand the inefficiencies and limitations of traditional real estate transactions. At the same time, I was following the development of blockchain technology and saw its potential to revolutionize the industry,” she says. “I saw an opportunity to combine my experience and knowledge of real estate with my understanding of technology to create a platform that would make real estate transactions faster, cheaper and more secure.”
After Propy was founded, Karayaneva expressed that she wanted to extend their resources to agents across the industry, to help others get ahead of the curve and break out into the Metaverse field.
“We recognized that the traditional methods of buying and selling properties were no longer enough, and that a new skill set was required to navigate the complex and exciting world of virtual real estate,” says Karayaneva. “ knew that empowering real estate agents with the knowledge and tools they needed to succeed in the virtual world would help them better serve their clients and be more successful in their careers.”
With that goal in mind, Propy launched their Meta Agent Course, designed to teach agents any and all information they needed to work in Meta real estate, from virtual reality basics to more intricate details of VR transactions. Karayaneva explains that the online course “is a comprehensive program that covers all the important aspects of working in the Metaverse, from how to find the perfect virtual property for a client, to how to complete a secure and efficient transaction using blockchain technology.”
As for advice to those looking to work their way into the Metaverse, Karayaneva says that REALTORS® should learn more about blockchain technology, network with other Meta real estate professionals, and check out any and all courses and workshops available.
“In the era of rapidly evolving technology, education is increasingly important for real estate agents. The Metaverse represents a new and exciting opportunity for the real estate industry, and it is crucial for agents to understand the potential it holds and how they can leverage it to benefit their clients,” explains Karayaneva.
Rochelle Atlas Maize, director of luxury estates at Nourmand & Associates in Beverly Hills, got her start in the Metaverse by partnering with developer LEDY for the sale of a real life $9.4 million Beverly Hills estate, with the option to purchase a virtual sister residence for $100,000 in the Metaverse Decentraland. Unlike Karayaneva, Maize broke out into the field “pretty much brand new, without any knowledge or expertise.”
“LEDY approached me because I was well-known in luxury real estate and they wanted a name that had some really good marketing behind it. They saw my work with the TikTok house and came to me. This was right around the time I had started reading about the Metaverse—it had been months of me just reading and self-educating as much as I could,” explains Maize. “After talking to LEDY Co-Founder Mark Emtiaz and the other developers of the company, I became fascinated with the Metaverse. I wanted to learn everything about it. I could see the incredible potential with it, and I knew it was just a matter of time before it was going to gain lots of traction.”
The extent of Maize’s knowledge before working in the Metaverse was a bit of bitcoin trading and selling an NFT, so getting her start was a bit of a challenge.
“Trying something so different was extremely challenging. First, I had to wrap my head around the idea, and then I really needed to educate myself to get comfortable. The Metaverse feels like it’s going to be the next Instagram-level of powerful, but it’s much more difficult to understand than social media,” says Maize. “I didn’t necessarily seek out Meta real estate. I was more trying to gain an understanding of how the Metaverse could help me market my properties. That’s how LEDY and I came up with the idea to build a virtual version of the Beverly Hills estate I was selling. It is a really creative way to market.”
Maize’s advice for prospective Metaverse agents is to do a lot of research, and seek as much education as possible. “You’re going to have a lot of questions. After my own research, LEDY educated me a ton to answer my questions and help me understand. Working with a company or doing workshops and courses can be a big help.”
The future of Meta real estate
Like any new technology, the Metaverse’s future isn’t set in stone. Not every piece of tech gets its time in the sun, and some only get their 15 minutes of fame. Technology like Instagram didn’t take off in a day, let alone a year, but it did manage to stick around. Social media took its time to grow and expand in prominence, and real estate professionals feel the same about the Metaverse.
Maize expresses that while the Metaverse has incredible potential, it’s probably about five to eight years out from being a full-fledged staple of modern technology. However, she feels that this is the time to get ahead of the curve and start learning.
“I think the Metaverse has incredible potential. What was surprising for me was that it’s moving much slower than I thought it would be. If you would have asked me a year and a half ago, I would have said that within a year, we’d see a big change. But I have my crystal ball now, and can see what happened. After the spike in the Metaverse at the end of 2021 and Q1 2022, the buzz slowed down parallel to the rise of interest rates,” says Maize. “Anyway, I do think people should learn about it. I think the future looks bright for the Metaverse, and it’s just a matter of time. When it happens, it’s going to happen fast, so better sooner rather than later to start learning.”
David Bitton, co-founder and CMO at DoorLoop, a property management software for the real estate proptech industry, sees a lot of potential in the Metaverse as well, and recommends it for REALTORS® looking to creatively market to younger, more technologically inclined generations.
“Generation Z is poised to shape the future of the internet as their usage of digital platforms is bound to dictate technology trends. This tech-savvy demographic tends to interact with each other on platforms that are either part of the Metaverse or have characteristics similar to it, as they generally have a lower interest in mainstream social media,” says Bitton.
With Gen Z already employed and building wealth, with a collective buying power of approximately $150 billion, according to Bitton, he adds that “From a marketing perspective, it would be wise to target this population when advertising products and services.”
Similar to Maize’s outlook, Bitton also feels that the Metaverse is not yet at its peak—and is still unpredictable. But, he feels that the Metaverse is only going to grow. “Although still in its infancy, it seems the Metaverse is here to stay. Forward-thinking investors are bound to see its potential, and it will only grow in popularity.”
Bitton also advises that for REALTORS® looking to become investors in property, the Metaverse also offers a way to get ahead of the future curve.
“There’s generally a limited supply of virtual lots, and as with physical real estate, when demand outgrows the supply, the early investors are in the best position to make a profit,” explains Bitton. “Investors who are already dabbling in unconventional investments such as cryptocurrencies may want to take their investing adventures a notch further by buying a piece of digital land. Although for now, it may just be a way to spend (or store) their extra money, they can develop their land and build spaces that can potentially attract brands and businesses in the future.”
Companies across the industry seem to be taking notice of the Metaverse’s potential, with eXp World Holdings announcing with their 2023 leadership changes that Chief Industry Relations Officer Jason Gesing would be working on Meta advisory.
Gesing explained that eXp was looking more into Meta real estate because “Companies like Matterport and others have demonstrated that immersive walkthroughs and digital twins can be powerful tools to help buyers explore properties.”
“We’ve been developing in-house Metaverse technology that, beyond being used for our own internal company collaboration and communication at eXp, is now being used by other leading companies around the world. We’ll be taking this to the next level in 2023 and beyond with products that are directly aimed at helping agents and prospects explore properties together in an immersive, powerful way,” he adds.
Propy is also growing their influence in the Meta industry, with Karayaneva announcing a new Metaverse within Propy’s ecosystem.
“This cutting-edge virtual world will provide a new layer of asset ownership,” says Karayaneva. “The first interactive, virtual home-buying ecosystem that facilitates real-world property and digital twin transactions. Imagine searching for your next home or investment property at scale, in any city by Meta-certified agents available 24/7.”